Say Hello To Saturn (The Cat)

A 5 month old kitten adopted a coworker of mine. She showed up on his door step one day and made her self at home. He tried to keep her for about a week, he even took her to the vet and had her checked out, but for various reasons couldn’t and his next option was to send her to the pound.

Now the kitten, which I have named Saturn, lives with me. She has a grey and black tabby coat. She is a polydactyl cat with 6 toes on both of her front feet. She looks like she is walking around on baseball mits. She still needs shots, spayed and to be declawed.

OK I admit it: she’s adorable and I never imaged I would own a cat or even a kitten for that matter. It’s been a little over a week since she first came into my house and it’s been an interesting experience. I’m happy to report that she hasn’t caused any trouble with urinating on anything and has used the litter box for all her waste needs.

She seems to have four modes. Spaz mode is one of the most common. Yesterday she was in super spaz mode where she went nuts nocking everything off the coffee table, jumping on and chewing on things. That ended when she jumped off the couch, slid onto the coffee table and into a box. Both her and the box crashed into the TV. She then ran into the bedroom for about 20 minutes. When she came out she was much calmer.

Her other modes include patrol mode, where she walk around the perimeter of the house. Love me mode is where she wants to sit in my lap no matter where I am or what I’m doing. Keep your distance mode is where she wants to keep me in site and observe but not come near me.

Due to the coyotes that live near in the area, Saturn will be an indoor cat. I posted a HD video of Saturn’s first look at the aquarium on YouTube.


Front Porch Raised Desert Garden

The temperature has been in the 60’s and 70’s in Rio Rancho and Albuquerque this last week. I decided to stop work on the master bathroom project and foucus on outdoor projects why the weather is good. There’s a good chance I will be sent out of town in spring and early summer so I won’t get a lot of chance work on the outdoor projects until fall.

There’s a structure in on my front porch under my front window, the best I can think to call it is a flower box or a raised planting bed. It’s about 8 feet long and two feet wide and a permanent structure made of brick.


The previous owners had something growing in it. I’m not sure what it was as there is no signs of life in it and it’s filled with potting soil. The only thing that it has really been used for is a litter box for the neighborhood cats.

This area of the front of my house is ugly and I get disgusted to look at it every day I walk by it. I’ve been thinking about what I wanted to do with this area for a while, I considered tearing it out and concreting the whole area but that’s going to be just as ugly as the mess that is already there. I decided to make it into a desert rock garden with a few low water usage native plants. This will also be the prototype for what the rest of the front yard will look like.

I’m using low water usage desert plants in the yard which generally like sandy soil. I removed about 6 inches of potting soil (and cat crap) from the raised bed and replaced it with sandy New Mexico dirt from the backyard. I didn’t worry too much about the dirt being clean and I doubt the plants will care.


Of of my goals with this project is try and reuse materials I already have. I searched my property for volunteer plants that have sprouted up around the yard. I found two different types of Yucca in the yard (yucca is the state flower of New Mexico). Yucca is a rhizome and from what I have read, appear to be pretty forgiving when removing from the ground.

There was one kind of Yucca in the very front of my property near the road. It was challenge digging these two plants up because of the spikes on the end of their leaves.


Further up my property there are several more mature Yucca plants of a different variety. They had some smaller plants sprouting near them. The smaller plants were much easier to dig up. I actually don’t know exactly what kind of Yucca varieties any of these plants are.


I was dissapointed that I didn’t find any cacutus anywhere on my property. I ended up buying a small barrel cactus from Lowes for about $10. In retrospect, it was probably easier to buy the cactus and transplant it from the panter rather than dig it up. Getting it out of the planter was difficult enough by itself. Each of the Yucca plants would have probably cost about $10 each, so I saved about $40 in plantings.

I found some small bunches of what I believe is buffalo grass on the south side of my property. They have been growing there for several years but I have a feeling they won’t survive due to the lack of a full day’s sun at the front of my house.

The material I have in the most abundance is rock. It’s unfortunately the kind of rock I would rather not have. It’s small, less than 1 inch, round and grey river rock. The original landscapers were in love with this stuff. It’s everywhere, in the front yard, in the backyard and on the side yard.

The side yard has a thick layer of the round river rock and this is where I access my back yard with a vehicle. Driving on round river rock is very much like driving on marbles. A better choice would be to use the angular aggregate and if I was starting over I would use decomposed granite. In any case I’m stuck with this stuff so I will try to reuse as much of it as I can and make it look nice.

There’s also a small amount of dark red volcanic rock aggregate, which is native to New Mexico, and larger boulders in the yard. I used both the river rock and the volcanic in the raised bed.

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This is my first attempt at desert landscaping and I think the results came out good. You can view all the photos of front porch landscaping project on Flickr.


The next project will be to do something about the ugly 1970’s white rock that borders the raised bed.